BY PAM WALKER
The Greens have been the main beneficiaries of Labor’s electoral meltdown in last weekend’s local government election.
The vote count continues but it’s obvious Labor has suffered a massive voter backlash in the inner city, especially the inner west, that if replicated at the next state election would unseat Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbut and Education Minister Verity Firth.
Symbolically, Labor has failed to win even one council spot in Leichhardt’s Balmain ward, the birthplace of NSW Labor.
“Twenty years ago, the ALP had all the councillors in the Balmain ward, and now they have got none,” said Greens Leichhardt councillor Jamie Parker.
The Greens representation on councils increased 25 per cent statewide, but in the inner west they blitzed it, winning more than 40 per cent of the primary vote in Leichhardt and Marrickville.
And the bleeding came from Labor: The swing from Labor to the Greens was 10 per cent in Leichhardt and Marrickville councils.
Cr Parker had flagged early in the week that four Greens councillors were certain, five likely and six possible. By Wednesday afternoon it was confirmed the Greens had secured six spots, with three Labor, two Liberal and one independent.
‘It’s recognition of the positive work done by the Greens but it also highlights the fact Labor hasn’t been listening,’ Cr Parker said.
In the City of Sydney, the Greens also increased their vote, and look set to win two spots on the council, with the Liberals taking one and Labor one. And while final results will not be known until the end of the week, Clover Moore’s independents look certain to have secured six spots, giving the party a majority in its own right.
The Labor backlash was also felt in the eastern suburbs where Labor’s influence has waned and it polled third, behind the Liberals and the Greens in that order.
In fact, the Liberals have the chance to again control the council after 30 years as Liberal-aligned independent Miriam Guttman-Jones has won a spot on Hunter ward ahead of the Green Virginia Milson.
This gives Labor and the Greens three spots each, the Liberals five and one independent. Control of the council will be decided by the mayor’s casting vote, and the mayor will be drawn by a ballot each year ‘ out of a hat in other words.
‘I think the Liberals did phenomenally well and if we had a popularly elected mayor, we would have won it,’ Liberal councillor Sally Betts said.
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon warned that the State Labor Government would crash in coming by-elections if Premier Nathan Rees did not move quickly to change the damaging policies of his predecessors.
‘At the top of his agenda should be repealing pro-developer planning laws and banning corporate donations to political parties,’ she said.